COLLEGE PARK -- Eddie Sutton was serious, even if it sounded like heresy here in ACC country.
After Oklahoma State had rubbed out North Carolina State's high-powered offense, Sutton suggested that the Wolfpack had not confronted man-to-man defense equal to what is standard fare with his Cowboys.
"I've followed the ACC for so many years and it's a great conference," the Oklahoma State coach was saying. "But you don't see hard-nosed defense the way we play it. You don't see an aggressive, denial type of defense. And if you don't see it, and all of a sudden here it is, it makes it tough."
As the only coach to have taken four teams into the NCAA tournament, Sutton's credentials are in order. And so, judging from the opening two rounds of the East Regional at Cole, is his defense.
The Cowboys advanced to the East Regional semifinals against Temple (23-9) Friday at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., with a 73-64 triumph over the Wolfpack. Oklahoma State's suffocating defense forced 16 turnovers -- seven by point guard Chris Corchiani -- and held the Wolfpack to 40 percent field-goal shooting.
The Cowboys hadn't won two NCAA tournament games since 1958, when Sutton was a player under the legendary Henry Iba.
"In 1958 when I played, it was easier to get up the ladder," he said. "It has been a long dry spell, and because it is my alma mater, it does make it very special."
Sutton returned to the Stillwater, Okla., campus this season after being forced out at Kentucky two years ago and sitting out last season.
Temple has been to the Sweet 16 as recently as three years ago, when the Owls were beaten by Duke, 63-53, in the Meadowlands.
"We're a much better balanced team than we were then," Temple coach John Chaney said. "But so are all the other clubs. We couldn't take that club and be where we are now.
"Whether this team is good enough to go farther, I don't know."
The Owls played relentless defense out of a 2-3 zone matchup, and are especially tough inside defensively with 7-foot center Donald Hodge and 6-9 forward Mark Strickland.
The Cowboys' best inside player is 6-7 Byron Houston, who scored 45 points and took 29 rebounds in OSU's two victories at Cole.